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Saved by a Franklin Stove

When my dad retired from the post office in the early 70s, he bought a Franklin wood stove from Sears and installed it in the living room. “Northwest Ohio winters can be pretty cold,” dad would say. It seemed kind of strange to me at the time, but then he was always very interested in self-sufficiency. In fact, all the time I was growing up, mom and dad always had a one acre garden!! (I tell folks I was born a slave to a monster! Okay, okay, it was good for me.) Anyway, dad was tickled he was saving on the fuel oil prices, and it sure kept the house nice and warm. When I would come home in the summers I’d help stock him up on fuel from our woods out back. Those were great times working with dad. They are fond memories I will always cherish.

blizzard 1978

At Christmas time, 1977, I was living in Vermont, and came home for a visit during the holidays. On Christmas Day he had what we thought was a heart attack. It turned out to be an aneurysm of his aorta. He spent 53 days in the hospital. I was self-employed so I could stay home and look after mom and my special-needs sister while dad was slowly recovering.

Then it happened. Before dawn on Thursday, January 26th, the blizzard of ’78 hit with a vengeance with 60 mph winds and temperatures in the single numbers. We woke up to absolutely lethal weather. Very quickly we lost power. No electricity meant no well water, so we had to melt snow for drinking water and other needs. No power meant no furnace, but that Franklin stove worked perfectly, and our breezeway was stacked to the rafters with split red oak. That previous summer I remember thinking, “What smelly wood this is!” Now I thought it was absolutely beautiful.

For four days the wind howled and drove the snow into banks so high and hard-packed, you could walk on top of them. Then it ended and the digging out began.

I am happy to say that dad recovered and lived to share his wisdom with us for 2 1/2 more years. “You’ve always got to have a back-up plan,” he used to say. Thanks to his foresight, hard work and planning, we survived that killer storm while he was still stuck in the hospital. A self-reliant heating plan saved our lives back then. How much more critical is it today when we are faced with staggering uncertainties? As dad would say, “What’s your back-up plan?”

John G.

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